UN envoy arrives in Beirut for disarmament talks

The United Nations' Middle East envoy flew to Lebanon on Thursday for talks on a Security Council resolution that calls on the country to disarm Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups. The visit of Terje Roed-Larsen coincided with a national conference of the political factions on the disarmament issue as well as the fate of Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, whom anti-Syrian groups are trying to oust. The conference, which began March 2, has focused on Security Council Resolution 1559, passed in September 2004, which called for presidential elections in Lebanon and the disarmament of all militia. Lebanon's parliament, then dominated by pro-Syrian legislators, ignored the resolution and extended Lahoud's term for three years. In a statement at Beirut airport, Roed-Larsen said one of the aims of his visit was to encourage the conference to reach an agreement. He said he hoped it would lead to the implementation of Resolution 1559. Next month Roed-Larsen is due to submit a progress report on Resolution 1559 to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In the past few days he has visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan.